The Trail Smoke Eaters are ramping up their family-fun festivities this season.
Trail special events coordinators Allison McCarthy and Rachel Swanson have been brainstorming all summer to come up with new and exciting events for fans to enjoy during the intermission breaks at Smoke Eaters games.
“We do a lot of brainstorming, but we also get a lot of ideas from our fellow marketers in the league,” said Swanson, Trail’s marketing and sales assistant. “When we all get together, we discuss the ideas that we have, and get feedback from everyone else.”
On Saturday, in anticipation of Thanksgiving, lucky contestants will compete in a ‘Turkey Toss’ courtesy of Kurtis’ No Frills in the first intermission, and the No Frills Grocery Games during the second break.
“We’ll have three contestants who will toss the turkey down the ice in a good old-fashioned turkey toss,” said Swanson. “Those turkeys will be donated to the food bank, and we have put the post up on FaceBook so I’m in the midst of picking people right now.”
Many of the promotions have seasonal themes, like the Halloween costume contest that was a huge success last year. But undoubtedly the biggest draw will come on Dec. 19 when the Smoke Eaters host a ‘First Responders Night’ with very special guest and Warfield native Craig Cunningham in attendance.
“He (Cunningham) will be in town to promote his All Heart Foundation,” said Swanson. “All first responders will get in free, so police officers, all paramedics, fire-fighters, and that also includes the Teck firefighters and the emergency response team up at Teck, and anyone in the area.”
On Nov. 19, 2016, Cunningham collapsed on the ice prior to the Arizona Coyotes AHL affiliate Tucson Roadrunners game against the Manitoba Moose. Cunningham suffered a cardiac arrest and was immediately treated and saved by first responders.
As a result of the sudden arrest, Cunningham also had his lower left leg amputated and although it put an end to his playing career, the former Beaver Valley Nitehawk has made an incredible recovery. Along with the help of his brother Ryan, Craig’s foundation is committed to finding improved methods of screening using smart technology to predict the potential onset of Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
Another Smoke Eaters game to mark on the calendar is Oct. 20 versus West Kelowna for the Smokies 1930 replica jersey night. Trail will unveil the 1930 jerseys that day and wear them for four more home games during the regular season.
“They are so cool. I think Trail is going to go wild over them, so we’re really excited to see that and we’ll wear those four more times throughout the season.”
The Smokies will hold a raffle on each of the five replica jersey nights and a lucky fan will take home one of the jerseys. The Underwear Band will also be in the stands to accompany each of the retro-jersey nights.
Each home game will have different game-night sponsors and events planned, and fans will be treated to an entertaining and exciting night even when the Smokies aren’t on the ice.
With a year under their respective belts, the events coordinators learned a lot from last year’s induction and look forward to an even better year this season.
“We definitely learned what our fans liked contest-wise,” said Swanson. “In the end we had a really good season and we definitely learned a lot from it.”
So whether it’s playing soccer in a sumo suit, channeling your best hungry hippo, or pitching turkeys down the ice, fans can be a part of the Smoke Eaters family-friendly festivities by going to the Trail Smoke Eaters website or FaceBook page and signing up for upcoming events.
“It’s all about having fun, and in the end that’s all we want,” added Swanson.
The United Church Food Drive will also be at the games this weekend and invites fans to donate non-perishable food items or funds to help the Food Bank.
The Smoke Eaters play Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Friday and the Wenatchee Wild Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Cominco Arena.